You nailed estimating payroll is the key but it is very hard to estimate right and grow. This year I made some equipment changes, replaced some workers and stream lined the routes. Then I added a new guy. bottom line almost doubled for the year & payroll increased a little.
I'd like to keep overhead down and give some raises. But that is another estimating variable. Also I plan on adding a new guy next season.
The construction codes are $3.50-$4 ish per $100 more than mowing. Almost double. Most of the labor is maintenance (38 weeks). 6 months of the year we basically do not landscape. Jan/Feb are slow. July-sept. production sucks because of the heat.
I love the fact 6 months of landscaping brings in the same income as year long maintenance!